With talented forward Simon Gagne practicing again after recovering from a concussion for several months, the Los Angeles Kings should allow the clutch goalscorer to see the ice in the Stanley Cup finals versus the New Jersey Devils.
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter should add him back to the lineup because the team will need all the scoring punch they can get against a good goaltender like Martin Brodeur.
Per the AP (via ESPN):
"Well, we're still playing, so he got an opportunity to practice with us," said coach Darryl Sutter, who took over the Kings just three games before Gagne's injury. "You need lots of live ammo. ... Somebody asked (about Gagne's availability) a week or so ago, and there was no chance then, because he hadn't even skated with the team. All you do is improve your (chances). You go from zero to whatever."
Gagne would be a strong addition to the top-nine forward group with his 14 playoff goals over the past two seasons.
Of the 16 teams who made the playoffs, the Kings are second to last in power-play percentage, and are 6-74 coming into the Cup finals.
To their credit, they have scored five shorthanded goals, but they could certainly use someone with Gagne's sniping ability to correct their struggling power-play unit against the Devils.
Gagne has a knack for scoring big goals in the playoffs, including the game-winner in the Philadelphia Flyers' historic Game 7 victory over the Boston Bruins in the second round in 2010. He also scored some important goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their playoff run a year ago.
Inserting Gagne into the lineup could possibly disrupt the Kings' strong chemistry right now, but Sutter should make the right decision and put Gagne into the team.
Being able to play in the Cup finals and not getting a chance to step on the ice would be very difficult for Gagne, and as a veteran player and a classy guy, Gagne should see some time in this series.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup finals in Boston. He has also covered the Boston Bruins firsthand since the 2010-11 season.
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